Friday, July 29, 2011

A fuzzy family

As much as Clementine liked living with the yarn lady, she found that sometimes she was lonely.  Definitely when the yarn lady went out, but also sometimes when she was home.  She was nice and gave her lots of love and played with her, but it wasn't the same as having her sister and brother around or even the other cats she had met at the SPCA.  The yarn lady would throw things for her to chase, and played with her in her playhouse (she called it a hamper, but Clem knew it was a playhouse).  That was nice, but she missed playing chase with her siblings and the other cats.  

Clem's favorite thing to do was to play with all the yarn balls that the yarn lady had made for her.  There were lots of green ones, one red one and a giant fluffy brown one that was entirely different.  She thought it was called a pompom, or something like that.  It wasn't as fun as the others, because it didn't roll very well, but it was nice to lie on because it was fluffy.  

The yarn lady had gone out this afternoon, and soon after she left the rain started.  It rained harder and harder, and then the thunder and lightning started.  The lights that had been left on blinked a couple of times, and Clem was afraid she'd be left all alone in the dark.  She ran around the house, gathering up all the yarn balls, even the big fuzzy pompom and piled them under the yarn lady's bed and then sat down in the middle of them.  As the rain lashed against the windows, Clem shivered and huddled up against the pompom, which was nearly as big as she was.  It was kind of like when she was very little and she'd snuggle into her cat mommy's side.  She gave the pompom and experimental lick, and decided that no, it wasn't quite like her cat mommy.  Her tongue didn't end up fuzzy from licking another cat.  

She looked at the pompoms and moved them around her, as though they were all a litter of kittens, snuggling a fuzzy mom cat.  The little red one looked kind of like her sister, come to think of it.  She was small, just like the red yarn ball.  She'd call her Tamsin, after her sister.  Then she pulled the green one with the long tail closer - it was kind of like her brother, Archie.  His tail was longer than hers and Tamsin's.  She'd call that one Archie.  The pompom of course had to be Mommy.  As the storm continued outside, Clem was oblivious to it, examining each of the yarn balls and deciding which cat that she'd met at the shelter they were most like.  "Tamsin, Archie, Mommy, Mehetabel, Hettie, Babs and Tinker.  What a nice group I have here with me.  You all play chase with me every day.  I don't need other kittens as long as I have you all, well, and the yarn lady of course."  She gave a playful bat to Tinker, a very fuzzy green yarnball that seemed to be coming somewhat undone.  Tinker skittered over to the wall and bounced off it.  Clem leaped on her/it and using her claws did a hook shot that sent Tinker out from under the bed and onto the hooked rug.  

"You can't hide from me by trying to camouflage yourself!  I've got you...."  Clem grabbed Tinker in her mouth and ran into the hallway, completely forgetting about the storm.  She and Tinker caromed around the house, occasionally including Tamsin or Archie in the fun.  

When the yarn lady returned later in the evening, she had no idea why Clem was so exhausted, or why in the world all the  yarn balls she'd made were scattered around the living room.  She was glad that Clem didn't seem to have been traumatized by the terrible thunderstorm and wondered if perhaps Clem had just slept through it.  

Friday, July 22, 2011


Clem was holding her own private celebration today.  She'd come to live with the yarn lady one week ago and was so happy to be here.  Sometimes she missed her brother and sister, but the yarn lady's condo was a lot nicer than living in the shelter.  She had toys, very comfy places to sleep, as much yummy food as she liked and people who rubbed her head and talked silly to her.  Even the yarn lady talked silly to her sometimes, but that was okay.  She was still a baby kitten.

She started out her celebration by scavenging all of her yarn balls from where they'd gotten stuck under the furniture.  The yarn lady was nice about that - if she couldn't find any, she just made more of them.  It wasn't that she thought Clem had done away with them or anything like that.  She just had so much yarn that it wasn't a big deal to wind up a new little ball and carefully thread the end through the middle so that it didn't unravel too easily.  Clem kind of liked them when they unraveled, though.  The first or second day she'd lived here she had managed to chase one that was coming undone so that it wound around one leg of the big bed, and twice around the chair legs next to it.  She unfortunately ran out of yarn then.  Clem had wanted to run it out into the living room, but it wasn't long enough.  Clem lined up the yarn balls, sternly resisting the temptation to bat them around.  That accomplished, she pulled the sheet of bubble wrap over and placed it right next to the dining room table, and then dragged her playhouse (which had originally been the yarn lady's hamper) over to where she'd lined up the balls in the living room. 

Clem jumped up on the dining room table and positioned herself right above the bubble wrap.  So far she hadn't been able to actually pop any of the bubbles.  She was just too little of a cat, but she had an idea that maybe if she jumped off the table with her claws out, maybe, just maybe she could pop some.  She liked the little popping sounds when the yarn lady stepped on them, and wanted to be able to play that game too.  She considered her plan, and instead walked to the other end of the table.  A running start would work even better, Clem decided. 

The yarn lady walked out of the bedroom just as Clem was making her approach.  She watched as Clem leapt off the table with all four legs splayed, claws at the ready.  Clem landed on the bubble wrap and was happy when at least six bubbles popped.  She hadn't figured on the effect her running leap would have on the landing, though.  Clem and the bubble wrap slid at high velocity across the room, into the hall and right into the yarn lady's legs.  The yarn lady laughed and picked Clem up, ending up with both cat and bubble wrap, since Clem hadn't thought to retract her claws.  She helped remove the wrap from Clem's claws and then gave her a cuddle, laughing the whole time. 

"I could never be bored with you in the house, Clementine.  I'm glad you came to live with me."  The yarn lady carried her into the living room and noticed the line of yarn balls.  There were about a dozen of them, a few starting to come undone.  "Hmmm.  Were you planning on some target practice, Clem?  Or perhaps this is more like a driving range, where you can go down the line and bat each one and see how far you can get them to go?"  She put Clem down and watched to see what she'd do. 

After considering these options, Clem decided on a third one.  She rearranged the balls into a tightish grouping rather than a straightish line and then backed off.  Thinking that her kitty might pounce again, the yarn lady backed off to a safe distance, in case the yarn balls started bouncing around.  Clem considered for a few moments and then charged at the batch of balls, batting as many as she could as she skidded to a stop.  In just a couple seconds, not a single one was within six feet of their starting place, and Clem was off.  It was almost like watching a little kid run the bases in softball, providing that there were a dozen bases that were arranged haphazardly.  She'd run to one, pounce on it and then bat it away and then move on to the next one to repeat the performance.  The yarn lady stood and laughed as she watched her.  Clem ran until she was out of breath, and collapsed on the floor right outside of her playhouse.  She'd managed to bat four into the playhouse.  Not bad, considering she wasn't even trying to do that. 

The yarn lady picked her up and carried her over to the couch.  She sat down and gently scratched Clem's ears.  Clem purred and then said, "I love you, yarn lady.  Thank you for choosing me to come live with you."  She didn't think the yarn lady understood cat, though, so she just turned up her purr.  Everyone understood purrs.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Learning to use the iPad

Clem had trouble falling asleep the first night in her new home.  She nestled down in the hair of the yarn lady, but wasn't sleepy.  The yarn lady wasn't asleep either.  She was lying in bed playing some game on her iPad, and Clem gave up the pretense of trying to fall asleep.  She climbed down and nestled between the yarn lady's chest and the iPad and became transfixed by the popping balloons on the screen.  She reached out and her paw popped a bunch of them.  She tried again and more popped.  Wow, this was fun!  She got bored after a few minutes when she realized that not all the balloons would pop, so the yarn lady went to the app store and checked to see if there were any games for cats. 

There were three free ones.  The first was a keyboard that made musical meowing sound, but when she played it for Clem she ran and hid at the end of the bed.  Those were scary sounding cats, and the things they were saying!  Obviously the humans who made the game didn't speak cat, because if they had they never would have included some of those vocalizations.  Gross insults, scatological terms and even profanity.  She guessed that the cats who'd contributed those sounds were still giggling that the humans had recorded them and used them in a game.

The second one involved a mouse that ran around the screen and squeaked a lot.  If Clem managed to tag it, it made a kind of a squished squeak sound that kind of made Clem's stomach a little icky.  The mouse went too fast, anyway, so she didn't play that one for more than a minute.  On the other hand, the third game with a fishy that swam around was kinda fun.  When she tagged the fish it disappeared and then in a couple seconds a new one appeared in a new color.  And every time she patted the screen concentric circles appeared.  It was cool, and she happily played it for at least five minutes, which for a kitten is the equivalent of at least an hour for anyone else.  

After that Clem watched the yarn lady check her email and look at what people were saying on something called Facebook.  It looked pretty easy, this Internet thing, especially with the iPad.  There was a popup keyboard and you could make the letters bigger or smaller, and she could probably make it big enough that her paws would fit on the keys if she was careful.  Clem was a smart little kitten.  Although she was only four months old, she knew how to read, and she figured she could write if someone made a pencil that she could hold.  She'd practiced tracing letters in water from her bowl on the walls of her cage.  Her litter mates laughed at her, but she wanted to be a cat who would better herself.  She'd learned to read from the family she'd fostered with for a few weeks.  There was several girls in the family, one who was just learning to read, one who was in grade school and an older girl.  Clem had sat with each of them and they'd read to her, and Clem found that she was able to follow along and quickly learned to read on her own.  She didn't know if this was the usual thing for cats, but she kind of liked it. 

Finally the yarn lady turned out the light and fell asleep.  Clem slept on her head for a while, and then got up and wandered around, still wide awake.  She jumped off the bed and decided to do a midnight reconnaissance.  She checked out all corners of the bedroom and then headed under the bed.  She looked around for stray dustmice to chase, and didn't find any.  She sprawled on her belly and then rolled onto her back.  As she did, she noticed that there was scratches in the slats holding up the boxspring.  On closer examination, they turned out to be writing, and the message said, "Hi, if you're reading this you're probably the yarn lady's new kitten.  I'm her old kitten and I live nearby.  Send me an email to and I'll introduce you to some other nice cats, and even a dog or two."

Very interesting.  Clementine stared at the message for a while and considered how she could send an email.  As she considered it she found herself becoming drowsy and soon kitten snores wafted from below the bed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Clem's homecoming

Clementine stretched and yawned.  Life was good.  She was sleeping on a very soft bed, there was a warm person next to her, there were covers to burrow into or under and it was all in her own home.  Not a cage in the SPCA, but her own forever home.  

She'd been just a tad bit worried this morning.  What if the yarn lady had changed her mind?  Maybe she couldn't wait and had come and picked out a different kitten yesterday who could go home right away.  Maybe she'd decided she didn't want a kitten at all.  Maybe she'd decided that she didn't like Clementine after all.  Too many worries for such a small cat, particularly one who'd just had surgery and was missing fur on her belly and one foreleg.  

A nice lady had picked her and the other kittens up this morning from the far-away place they had gone for their surgery and brought them back to the shelter.  Clem, who was still Gwyneth according to the SPCA folks, was put in a cage in Tibet, where she waited and worried.  Techs came and went, but none came to get Clementine.  

Then a tech came in with a familiar looking carrier.  She thought it was the one she'd been in two days ago, when she thought she'd be able to go to her forever home right away.  Was it?  The tech walked over to her cage and set it down on a nearby table.  She bent down, looked in the cage and said, "Gwenyth, it's time to go home!"   Yes!  It was her, it was time, it was...everything!

She was carefully lifted from her cage and put onto a soft light green towel in the carrier.  It smelled like the yarn lady - just like she remembered.  Oh, this was right.  The tech picked up the carrier, went through the door, and there she was - the yarn lady.  She HAD waited for her.  She did want her.

While the yarn lady did paperwork, Clementine played with the yarn lady's daughter.  She was nice, but a little loud, noisy even.  Just a little.  Then it was time to go.  She was carried out into the yarn lady's car and set on her daughter's lap.  Perfect!  She could see the yarn lady, and play with her daughter's fingers.  Being in the carrier was no big deal.  During the half-hour ride Clem played, explored and then decided to take a little nap.  All this change was tiring.  

When she arrived at her new home, Clem popped right out of her carrier and began to explore.  The room was nice and big and had a slippery brown floor.  If she ran and stopped suddenly, she could slide for a bit.  That was fun.  The yarn lady came in with a big loose ball of yarn and proceeded to make two tight little balls, just the size that she could carry in her mouth, if she opened it wide.  Clem batted those around for a while until one scooted under a closet door.  Bother!

Then the yarn lady's daughter picked Clem up and put her on the bed.  She explored that and found that she could get inside one of the covers and played under there for a while.  The yarn lady came in and laughed at the moving hump that was Clem.  Finally she came out and decided it was time for a nap on that soft cozy bed.  Yes, life was good. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Clem awoke  from a disturbed sleep feeling disoriented.  The world just wasn't right but she was too groggy to figure out what the problem was exactly.  She shook her head to try and clear her thoughts, and found that there was something huge attached to it.  She tried to turn and look at it but it moved with her head.  It was kind of like she was at the bottom of one of the tunnels in the big cats' play area, except it was stuck to her neck.

She heard a voice say, "It's okay, Gwyneth.  You're just waking up from surgery.  You have a special collar around your neck to keep you from chewing on your stitches.  I'll take it off in a little while if you stay calm."

Clem thought to herself, "I'm not Gwyneth.  The yarn lady gave me a new name."  Then in a rush it came back to her.  She had to have an operation before she could go to her forever home with the yarn lady.  She struggled to get up, and stood on four wobbly legs.  Gosh, she hadn't been this unsteady since she first started to walk, back when she still lived with her cat mommy.  She tried to take a step and fell in a tiny miserable heap.  Her belly hurt, she couldn't walk and she had this horrible thing around her neck.  She began to cry pitiful little cries.  "I want my mommy, I want my mommy."

A hand reached into the cage and very carefully scooped her up.  Clem was gathered to the chest of one of Tibet techs who gently scratched her head and crooned nonsense to her.  Clem snuggled in to the person's chest as much as she could with the horrible collar.  Another set of hands appeared and these loosened the collar's ties and removed it.  Clem shook her head a bit but it made her too dizzy.  Instead she just snuggled back in to the chest and nuzzled the kind hand.

"What a sweet little one she is.  I'm so glad she has a home to go to.  I wish they did.  I saw her new owner yesterday, and she looked so sad that she couldn't take her home right away.  Don't worry, little one.  I bet she'll be here as soon as we open tomorrow."

Clem smiled just a little and began to purr.  Yes, today wasn't a very good day, but tomorrow would begin a whole new life. 

Photo courtesy of Caren Parmelee -

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Delayed hopes

On Wednesday afternoon Tatum overheard the noisy girl talking to the yarn lady.  They were *finally* going to the SPCA to get a kitten for the yarn lady.  She was going to get one as soon as she moved, but had delayed it since he and Ursula had to stay with her while the floor in Adelphia was being replaced.  Tatum had alerted the cats at the SPCA, oh, weeks ago that she'd be coming and that she'd be an excellent forever mommy for a kitten, but when it had been delayed he hadn't done anything more. 

As soon as the noisy girl left with the yarn lady and Val, Tatum got on the computer and sent a message to his contact at the SPCA.  He hoped it would get through.  He described what the yarn lady was wearing (cut offs and a CROP walk t-shirt) and said that the kittens should try to look really cute if they wanted to go home with her. 

When the yarn lady walked into the adoption area at the SPCA, she was amazed at the attention the kittens paid her.  The grown up cats could care less that she was here, but it seemed that every kitten in the place either came up to the front of their cage or looked at her with endearing kitten eyes.  As she passed by each cage she swore she could hear little tiny sighs, but she steeled herself.  She could only take home ONE kitten, not the thirty or more that were here in the adoption area.  There were so many kittens, they'd even overflowed into the 'cute and fuzzy' area that usually housed rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. 

Val called the yarn lady's attention to one cage that contained two silver tabbies, one silver tabby/tortoise shell and one larger black kitten.  The tortoise shell was patting at Val's fingers and talking to her.  Although Val couldn't understand it, she was saying, "I know you're with the yarn lady - get her to come over here.  I know she'd love to meet me.  Pleaaaassseee!"  The volunteer carefully scooted the other cats out of the way and lifted the little girl out of the cage and handed her to Val.  She lay in Val's arms giving her most winning look.  Val handed her to the yarn lady, who cuddled her and rubbed her face against the kitten's tummy.  She turned up her purr to maximum volume and snuggled into the yarn lady's shirt.  Oh, she'd love to go home with this one.  Tatum was right.  She would be a good forever mommy. 

After a few moments, the yarn lady decided that yes, this was the kitten she wanted.  The noisy girl went out to get the carrier (although the kitten had no idea why Tatum thought she was noisy - talkative yes, but not at all noisy).  While they were waiting, the yarn lady whispered to the kitten that her name would be Clementine, but that she'd call her Clem. 

WHen the noisy girl returned and put the carrier on the floor, Clem hopped right into it.  No use delaying things by balking at the carrier.  She wanted to get this over with and go to her new forever home.  She was taken to Tibet so that she could be examined and given a clean bill of health.  She didn't much like Tibet, because those folks stuck poky things in her and prodded her uncomfortably, but she'd put up with anything to be able to go to her forever home.  Tibet looked at her and commented that she was a lot bigger than she'd thought and maybe they should just fix her now, rather than waiting a week or two.  Clem had no idea what they meant.  She wasn't broken, she didn't need fixing. 

Tibet brought Clem out into the waiting room where the yarn lady was waiting.  The yarn lady looked kind of sad as Tibet explained that they wanted to fix her now and that the kitten (Clem hated being referred to in the third person) wouldn't be able to go home with her until Friday.  With that, TIbet carried her back into the room that smelled like disinfectant and put her into a special small cage.  She watched through the window as the yarn lady, still looking sad picked up the carrier and went out the door. 

Clem began to cry.  What had she done wrong?  Had she broken something that needed to be fixed and that was what Tibet was talking about?  A cat in the next cage soon set her straight.  She wasn't broken, but Tibet needed to do something that sounded dreadful to keep her from having kittens and that was why she couldn't go to her forever home right away.  Clem tried to understand, but she was just a tiny little kitten who was very sad.  She curled up in a little ball and cried to herself.  She didn't even have her litter mates to keep her company.  After a few minutes one of the volunteers came in and gently removed her from the cage and cuddled her.  "It'll be okay, little girl.  The nice lady will come back for you on Friday afternoon, and then you can go to your new home.  I think you'll like it there."  She held her, and stroked her until Clem fell asleep.  She dreamed about her forever home.  Soon....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Love and cats

Love and cats

Hi, the yarn lady here.  I am sitting on my bed right now with Tatum purring at me like a freight train.  He's nuzzling my face, walking around me, and settled with his tail across the keyboard a minute ago.  He certainly wasn't happy coming to stay with me, but I think he's gotten used to the place. 

He didn't like it when my friend, Peep's Mommy, came over this afternoon.  Actually, both cats disappeared as soon as she showed up.  I eventually found Ursula under the bed, but couldn't find Tatum anywhere.  I checked the closets in the bedrooms, behind all the chairs and finally looked under the couch.  I was afraid he'd get himself stuck under there again, but no Tatum.  I knew he hadn't gone outside, but where could he be?  Finally I checked the linen closet in the bathroom (the last possible place to look, other than the kitchen cabinets), and there he was, curled up on a pile of sheets on the second shelf from the bottom.  I have no idea how he got up there (it's about 3 1/2 feet off the ground), but there he was.  He was partially hidden by a stack of towels, and I guess he figured that he'd be left alone in there. 

Ursula eventually came out and socialized with Peep's Mommy, twining between our legs and then parading across the table.  Tatum, on the other hand, stayed in the closet until after she left.  We went out for a couple hours, and when we got back I discovered that the power was out due to a lightening strike nearby.  There is, was really, a locust tree near the community entrance that is now a shattered locust - twisted, bark off it, and bits of wood all over.  I checked to see that the cats were okay and went out for an hour or so until the power came back on. 

Ursula was happy to see me, but Tatum didn't come out for nearly an hour.  I'm not sure, but I think the thunder storm was just too much on top of the unexpected visitor.  I know he'll be happy to go home and be with his beloved Daddy and the noisy girl, but I'll miss both Tatum and Ursula when they leave. 

Late night shenanigans

Tatum and Ursula were finally completely comfortable staying at the yarn lady's house.  They'd explored every nook and cranny and found nothing inimical.  None of the furniture was familiar, but it was comfortable enough.  The yarn lady wasn't home all the time, but she was there enough for them to feel comfortable without feeling crowded. 

It was restful, actually.  Most of the time when she was home the yarn lady was reading, on her computer or sleeping.  Oh, and cooking or cleaning up, but that didn't take much time, really.  She didn't have loud music on at all, and even the television rarely was turned on.  It was an atmosphere very conducive to sleep, and so Tatum and Ursula found themselves drowsing their days away. 

Of course, if you sleep all day, you tend to be awake more at night.  One night both Ursula and Tatum found themselves wide awake at just about the time the yarn lady went to bed.  Tatum, snuggly cat that he was, sat with the yarn lady, pressed against her back until she fell asleep.  He liked it and the humans seemed to like it a lot too, judging from their comments.  Once she was sound asleep Tatum wandered over to the crunchy food bowl and helped himself to some food.  The yarn lady usually made sure it was full before she went to bed, but tonight it was nearly empty.  She'd refilled the water bowl, which was nice.  The yarn lady was nice about water.  She gave them fresh water twice a day, even if the bowl wasn't empty, and more often if someone (generally Ursula) had dropped a piece of crunchy food in the bowl. 

Ursula also helped herself to some crunchies, and began complaining as she finished the last one off.  "Hey, this is not good.  I'm gonna be hungry again in a little while and there's no food left in this bowl.  Tatum, where does she keep the food bag - maybe I can just burrow into it and help myself." 

"No go, sweetcakes.  She's got it in a cabinet that I can't open.  I think it's got some sort of magnetic closing thingy.  Maybe she'll wake up before we're hungry again."  Tatum wasn't one to worry over things that hadn't happened yet. 

Well, within 45 minutes Ursula wanted more food, and there was still none in the bowl.  The crunchy food fairy hadn't appeared and refilled it and the yarn lady was still sound asleep.  So, Ursula took it upon herself to wake the yarn lady and let her know that there was a job that needed doing.  "I'm hungry...I'm hungry...I'm hunnnnnngryyyyyy!"  She wailed and then jumped up and down on the yarn lady's tummy.  One or the other was sure to wake her up. 

"Hunh?  What's up - who's that?  Tatum?  Ursula?"  The yarn lady got up and stumbled (literally) into the hallway where she turned on the light.  "Darn, I should have fed you before I went to bed.  I had a feeling you guys would finish that food."  She pulled the bag out of the cabinet, filled the bowl and headed back to bed. 

Ursula munched through several mouthfuls of crunchies and wondered what to do next.  She saw Tatum passing the doorway on the way to the kitchen and ambushed him.  "Gotcha!  Tag.  You're it."  She ran into the other bedroom and hid in front of the bookcase.

Tatum, who had been a bit bored, ran in after her and skidded to a stop on the wood floor. He whipped his head around, trying to figure out where Ursula had gone.  He noticed the tip of a small black tail underneath the dresser next to the bookcase and decided to sneak up on her by going under the dresser.  It was considerably higher than the living room couch, so he didn't worry about getting stuck.  He wormed his way through and snagged the tail with his claws.  "Tag."

The disadvantage to a strategy like that was that by the time you got out from under the dresser, the cat who was 'it' was waiting for you.  "Gotcha!"

The two cats ran around the apartment, tagging back and forth until they realized they'd never established a home base.  Ursula suggested that the yarn lady would make a perfect base, and so the game moved to one where the not-'it' cat raced to touch the yarn lady before the other cat could tag him or her.  More fun for them, but it made for a rumpus on the bed.  First Tatum leaped onto the bed, tagged the yarn lady and yelled "Home free!"  Then Ursula tried the same, only to find that Tatum had snuck up the other side of the bed - so she made a giant leap over the yarn lady crying, "Banzai!" 

After a few minutes of this the yarn lady sat up and said, "Enough!  I am not playing home base for your game of tag.  Out, both of you!."  She shooed them out of the room and securely latched the door.  Tatum and Ursula looked at each other.  Bummer.  They were just having fun.